Remember that big blizzard that hit on February 10? Yeah, that was the day before fashion week. While schools were closing and folks were getting out of work early, I was in the office frantically putting the finishing touches on a seven-page, color-coordinated spreadsheet outlining the next seven days' worth of shows. Come Thursday morning, I put on my most glamorous first-day-of-fashion-week outfit and rubber boots to trudge out into the drifts, only to hear the first reports trickling in that Alexander McQueen had killed himself.
To put it mildly, getting that kind of news on the first day of fashion week (and mind you, fashion week continues to London, Paris, and Milan after New York, so really we're just the appetizer course in a larger fashion week feast) was the worst kind of sucker punch. McQueen's talents far outweigh the vast majority of American luminaries—even my most beloved indies. So the theme of the week became pressing on—through snowstorms and tragedies, all the while trying to look our Sunday best.
The Scene: If September's event was defined by the onslaught of Twitter, February's could have been titled "When Bloggers Attack." It was like all of a sudden the community decided to catalogue and evaluate the presence of the dozens of bloggers that frequent the shows—spearheaded by quirky 13-year-old (yes, 13) Tavi, who's irresistibly charming because she quotes movies like Clueless even though she wasn't alive when it came out. Full-time-editors-trying-to-keep-their-jobs notwithstanding, the fashion horde loves a rule-breaker, and bloggers certainly fit that bill. Outside of the runways, the party circuit was noticeably dimmed (whether it was the snow or the recession or just the February blues, who knows): There was no Courtney Love in a gas station this year after Alexander Wang, though there was Patti Smith at the Milk Studios after-party for (and I'm still not entirely sure how this connection was made) LnA.
The Shows: As was the case with Spring 2010, fall's collections seemed to bear the scars of a nation enveloped in job losses and retail closures. The big elements making an appearance at most of the runway were the most luxurious of materials: leather (dresses! T-shirts! Shorts!), velvet (shades of our 90s junior proms), and fur, fur, fur—from pink fur jackets at Peter Som to fur skirts at Michael Kors. I mean, was PETA too busy chasing down Johnny Weir at the Olympics or something? The one recession-inspired standout seemed to be the madcap print mixing—stripes with florals, metallics with knits, checks with... you get the idea. The whole effect went beyond boho and into thrift store-meets-workroom scraps chic, the pinnacle of which was Rodarte's exquisitely crafted patchwork dresses and tattered bridal gowns. Other stand-outs for fall were Proenza Schouler's Heathers-meets-Buffy moody prep school girls (think black lips, pleated skirts and thigh-highs); Altuzarra's Edward Scissorhands-meets-Twilight leather bodysuits and long red dresses with exaggerated seams; and the week's game-changer, Marc Jacobs, who avoided the majority of the week's "trends" and opted for timeless style in the form of impeccably tailored jackets and glamorous, 30s-inspired gowns.